Wickliffe High School
Instructor(s): Sophia Stasiak, Tobin Terry
Pass the Butter
Pass the Butter
Wrists and fingertips press against the batter into the wooden counter. The skin pulls the dough out into a mini-baguette. Agile and skillful hands move and mend the ends together, turning, flipping, and rising yeast. The bread makes its way into a room laced with a frigid mien. They grow and form their crust. When you are in a cold climate, you need warmth; to give the aliments a warm heart, you boil them in hell's water. It is the same for the beigel babies. Simmer the center of the starch, let it breathe, then bake. After these flawless steps, crafted from tender and wise hands, you have the divine bagel.
On the outskirts of Paris lies the secluded town of Fresnes-sur-Marne. A place where you'd drive by on your way to visit your aunt. Oak trees hide behind homes, and fields of tall grass blanket young roe deer. There is a beloved family-owned bakery, worn spruce floors, and a brick wall with baskets of fresh baked goods. Maybe it's the fire in the oven, the wheat, or perhaps just the love, but this is where the story of a plain bagel begins.
The warmth of the oven opens into the kitchen. A man out of sight barks "Rosella apporte les bagels au comptoir!" A young woman takes the tray and leads her way to the counter, "Je connais papa!" What are they saying? The newborn bagels mumble to each other with curiosity. Although the plain beigel on the left end says nothing, a noisy neighbor asks, "Hey! What's your name?" The silent bagel answers, "Oh, Uhm, my name is Miette." "Nice to meet ya Miette! Do you know what's going on? I feel like I woke up from an extensive nap in the cosmos! Can you believe that?" Miette sees the radiant cream brown of the bagel's crust, "That's super strange. Hey, do you know what we are or where we are?" The bagel seems to think for a millisecond, "I am me! And You are Miette! And I know nothing else!" Miette takes a second to take in his surroundings.
Light peers through rectangular spaces in the wall, and the woman that took them from the cozy box was taking out more of them. A sound was coming from the unknown; it was mellow and felt airy with tongues of a foreign region. The man interrupts Miette's thoughts, "Oi! Rosa! Sortez le pain frais devant, c'est bientôt l'heure d'ouverture!" The woman rushes to the counter and squawks, "D'accord PAPA!"
She grabs the tray of cooled treats and marches into the wooden swing doors. She hands it off to a small ample woman. "Woah! These guys are fast!" yelps the cheerful bagel. The older woman plucks a few into a large glass box, so limpid; you could hardly see it was there. "Uh oh! Guess this is my stop, bye-bye Miette!" Miette sees his new friend grabbed from a meat-like hand into the glass cage. He was beyond stunned at how they had no care or worry about this new experience. There was a snug amount of beigels remaining.
The plump woman stepped onto a stool and held the tray with her hip. Hand-woven baskets hung onto the wall with an assortment of loaves. The woman enfolded her fingers around Miette, "Voici votre nouveau garçon à la maison." "Woah!" Miette yelped; the balmy air flew beneath his buns and landed into a basket next to some other peculiar folk. The woman fumbled, then set Miette straight, with his top facing the rest of the building, "Te voilà" Her kind head vanished below Miette's sight. Beyond the knitting of the basket, he could see small tables with chairs, golden light from blowing bulbs, and people with some white aprons working.
"What are you?" a somber voice breaks. Miette is startled but turns to see a long crispy loaf that smells of goat butter. "I'm Miette; I think I'm a bagel… what are you? A, uh, … some long loaf?" The bread heaves a deep chuckle, "What a young soul! You must have been made just some minutes ago! I am Pâte, and I'm a baguette." Miette admires the flakes and baked cuts on Pâte's exterior. "Your manner is fascinating Mr. Pâte! How long have you been here for?" Pâte's tone is ever slightly statelier, "Well, young child, I am a day and a half old, my time as a prime baguette is nearing. But, I have gained more wisdom than your two grains could fathom." Miette goes starry-eyed, "REALLY!?" Pâte coughs sharply, "Uh-well-Yes! Of course. What would you like to know, Miette?" He looks around the unknown places and things he has yet to learn.
"Well, what's that?"
"That is a pain polka."
"What about that one?"
"A fougasse, very intricate."
"Navette de marseilles, very unique."
"Oh, and… what is that?"
"That my son is a Croissant."
"Woah, they're beautiful."
"'Beautiful'? I suppose so…"
"Do you know where we are?"
"Well, Miette, we are in a bakery. It's a building that makes pastries and things like you and me. Then, other human apes come through that door and give the young boy flappy paper. In return, the human gets to have a pastry. Think of it like a trade. I don't know why they do this, but they come back often for more."
"How strange. Do you know what humans say? I heard a young woman speak gibberish! And this breathy tongue through the walls!"
"Ha ha! Perhaps it is nonsense; they don't seem the smartest of organisms do they? And that breathy voice through the walls? That is music."
"What is that, Pâte?"
"Think of it as the buzz of a fire, the language none of us speak; but can somehow understand. It's what birthed us; it gave us our consciousness and words; it somehow speaks and feels without concrete thinking. That is what music is."
"It sounds magical."
"It is indeed Miette."
The bustle of the bakery has become distant in conversation, but one thing cuts through the milky air. Ding~ding. An older man with folds in his skin and hands leisurely enters the homey bakery. The same younger woman that pulled Miette out of the oven came to walk by the man's side, "Bonjour Charles! Qu'aimeriez-vous aujourd'hui? Comment va la femme?"
"Who is that, Pâte?"
"That man is Old Morning Man. He walks here every morning to pick up what his wife wishes for breakfast. I've never seen her, but I assume she's very sick."
"What does sick mean?"
"Well… Sick is like getting molds and becoming too dry and hard. Like everything that made you bread; has vanished, and you are this pitless shell of your former self. It's ill-treatment, and it eats you up to your core.
"Sick sounds horrid. I can't believe human apes have to go through such a nightmare. Is there something we can do, as we are?"
Pâte let out a dejected laugh. "I like your spirit, young bagel. I don't believe our existence makes a difference in preventing sick for humans…I have to be up-front with you; I believe I am sick."
"My bottom has grown hard, and my insides have lost their malleability. I fear I don't have much time left, Miette."
"What do you mean you don't have much time left? What's happening?"
"I have been sitting on this shelf for too long. My freshness is wearing thin. I will not be up here for much longer. I don't know what will come to me, whether I go back to what I was before I was born, or maybe I will be held in a space to rot." Pâte no longer had his charm, but his voice grew dim and dull. It was something heavier than Miette could expect the world to be.
"Pâte…Is that what will come of me?" Miette's letters quake open to reveal his rawest emotions.
Pâte sighs and murmurs, "No, never Miette. I know someone will bring thin paper and point you out from the rest. It's just who you are, son."
Miette and Pâte look out to the bakery and its few customers to avoid facing each other. Just a few moments after, a tall girl peaks through the window before stepping inside. Her caramel brown hair flaunts around her ears. She giggles to the boy at the counter and takes many breaths of the bread and rolls. Miette wonders where she is going, what is beyond the cozy bakery. "Regardez ces bagels frais! Mes deux amis à l'école en voudront aussi, puis-je en avoir trois ?" She says, all too fast, but her eyes glitter seeing all the baked dough,
"Why were we made and brought into this world? It seems too daunting and large. Why is a little bagel like me sitting in a basket right now? What's the point?"
The girl smashes her nose to the glass of navettes. Then to the bread rolls. You can see the bounce in her heart and the joy cracking in her face.
"I don't know Miette. I have been unable to figure out the 'Why?' to life's answers. All I have done is sit here and wait for things to happen. I never questioned my surroundings and was satisfied with sitting up oh-so high. But then all my friends left; all my baguette siblings left with humans, and I am left behind. I won't ever know why I'm here."
The two are silent.
"I'm glad you're here, Pâte. You're my friend."
"Thank you, child, I am extremely fortunate to have met you. You are a good friend."
"Thank you Pâte."
The girl was eyeing the wall, and pointed at Miette, "Gaberiel, je vais en prendre trois du lot d'où provient beigel!"
"Live and flourish out there Miette."
"But I don't know what to expect, I'm scared Pâte."
Pâte chuckled somberly, "Come on young bagel, you won't be alone!"